Ravenmaster Keeps England Aloft | God's World News

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Ravenmaster Keeps England Aloft

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    Barney Chandler is the newly appointed ravenmaster at the Tower of London. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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    Barney Chandler feeds a raven at the Tower of London. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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    A raven frolics on the Tower grounds. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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    Millions of tourists visit the Tower of London each year. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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    The birds roam the grounds by day and sleep in cages at night. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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    The ravens are a well-known attraction at the Tower. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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Strutting atop railings, hopping onto benches, flapping across lawns—the ravens at the Tower of London attract lots of attention. But these glossy black birds aren’t pests to be baked in a pie. Legend says if the ravens leave, England will fall.

King William I began construction of a royal residence in 1066. What become known as the Tower of London is actually a complex of 21 towers. In the 1600s, King Charles II believed the superstition about the birds. He decreed the Tower must always keep six ravens.

Michael “Barney” Chandler is the Tower ravenmaster. He makes sure the beady-eyed fortress residents don’t fly the coop and ruin the country.

No pressure.

“We take that responsibility very seriously,” says Chandler.

He is one of the Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters. This group of royal bodyguards was founded in the 15th century. Chandler heads a team of four red-uniformed warders who care for seven ravens—six decreed by Charles II and a spare: Jubilee, Harris, Poppy, Georgie, Edgar, Branwen, and Rex.

The jet-black birds are a well-known feature at the landmark, which has served as arsenal, palace, zoo, and more recently tourist attraction. Nearly three million tourists come yearly to view Britain’s Crown Jewels stored in the Tower.

But the edifice is most famous as a prison.

The Tower once held King Edward IV’s sons, allegedly killed by King Richard III. Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes, and Christian martyr Anne Askew all died there. Another royal inmate was Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth I, imprisoned by her half-sister Mary.

As ravenmaster, Chandler is responsible for the health and welfare of the royal ravens. The birds roam the tower grounds by day and sleep in cages at night.

Chandler says the ravens can be “too clever for their own good. But for me, that’s the attraction.”

His duties include maintaining the birds’ enclosures, arranging veterinary checkups, and trimming feathers. This prevents the ravens from flying too far. He also feeds them a diet of raw meat—plus the occasional hard-boiled egg or blood-soaked biscuit.

“They’ll eat almost anything,” Chandler says.

The Bible asks, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings.” (Proverbs 22:29) Chandler serves an earthly king with distinction. How much more should Christians strive to do their best in the jobs given them!

As for the fowl legend, “We don’t know if it’s true or not, because we’ve never let the number drop below six,” Chandler says. “And it’s not going to happen while I’m here.”

Why? Work is among God’s good gifts—and being a fervent, diligent worker is one way of loving God and others.

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